JPG Heritage Seminar

Archaeologist Everman
to speak on prehistoric Indians

His presentation is part of group’s annual seminar

By Konnie McCollum
Staff Writer

(November 2007) – Imagine a lifestyle that included hunting a 10-foot-tall elephant weighing around six tons. That’s exactly what prehistoric nomadic people throughout the local area did in order to survive. And amateur archaeologist Franklin Everman of North Vernon, Ind., for nearly 45 years has collected evidence of that lifestyle.
Everman will display some of those artifacts and discuss them at the sixth annual Jefferson Proving Ground History Seminar, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 3 at the Jennings County Public Library, 2375 N. Hwy. 3, in North Vernon.
The seminar is hosted by the JPG Heritage Partnership and Historic Hoosier Hills Resource, Conservation & Development Inc. and will feature several other presentations on a variety of topics, a catered lunch, exhibits and an opportunity to bid on special sales items.
The event costs $20 for early registration through Oct. 31 and $25 thereafter. It is open to the public, and anyone interested in local history is encouraged to attend. “We have something of interest for everyone,” said Ken Knouf, site manager for JPG. “Our topics are aimed at regional and local history of the JPG.”
Everman is a member of several archaeology societies, including the White Water Archaeology Society and Brookville Archaeology Society, both in Indiana. He has written numerous articles for archaeology periodicals and said he loves to attend artifact shows.
“I go out to the field every chance I get to look for items,” he said. “I just love doing this.”
Everman’s passion for artifact collecting began in the early 1960s during his teen years because of longtime friend James L. Theler, who is now a professor of anthropology at Wisconsin University at La Crosse. “James’ father was an avid collector since the 1930s, and he got us hooked on hunting for prehistoric artifacts,” said Everman, 62.
Over the years, he has collected knives, spears, scrapers, banner stones and other artifacts from the prehistoric Indians that roamed throughout the region thousands of years ago.
“We know these Indians were hunters and gatherers who did not settle in one spot,” said Everman, who retired from Muscatatuck State Hospital. “They came through the Bering Strait and followed the Mastodon elephants; spear points from these people have been found in mastodon remains.”
He said most of the artifacts of prehistoric Indians are found along main water sources, but scattered items can be found almost anywhere. “There are still a lot to be discovered in this area. However, many of the prehistoric artifacts are difficult to find because they run deep in the ground.”
He plans to bring to the seminar a chart and what he calls “a basic tool kit” and give an explanation for each piece.
In addition to Everman, there will be three other historians that will speak during the seminar. Chris Asher, director of the Jennings County Historical Society, will discuss the controversial issue of whether quilters used their craft during the Civil War era to signal to fugitives slaves on the Underground Railroad. “That is a huge topic of interest in this area, which was known for its Underground Railroad activity,” said Knouf.
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Brian Winters will discuss the importance of why his agency conducts controlled burns at Big Oaks National Wildlife Refuge, an overlay refuge situated on the former JPG grounds.
Professional historian Glory-June Greiff will speak about the significance and culture of the JPG during 1930s. “There were many smaller communities that no longer exist in this area,” said Knouf. “They have an interesting history.”
The JPG Heritage Partnership was formed to make sure the entire story about the creation, support and history of the Jefferson Proving Ground, an ammunition testing ground for the U.S. Army, is told.
The purpose of the non-profit organization is to gather oral histories, photographs, documents and artifacts about the 55,000-acre area that occupies parts of Jefferson, Jennings and Ripley counties in Indiana.

• For more information about the JPG History Seminar or the JPG Heritage Partnership, call Ken Knouf at (812) 273-2551 or Lilian Carmer at (812) 873-6494 or the Historic Hoosier Hills office at (812) 689-6410, ext. 5.

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